Created in 1980, the Mois de la Photo [Month of Photo] in Paris this year has become the Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris [Month of Photo of Greater Paris]. There are two key novelties of this 2017 edition. The most obvious is its planned start date in April instead of November. The second is the wide range of transdisciplinary events that expands from intramural Paris to the suburban areas.
This authoritative festival has launched an ambitious program despite its usual budget of 250.000€ and its limited amount of team members. Ten or so buses have been rented to facilitate the visitors’ journey through the great variety of galleries, centres, and museums amongst other venues by organizing “Intense Week-End” of visits. Nearly a hundred of exhibitions have now opened their doors. All explore photographic practices and have been carefully selected by François Hébel, former director of Les Rencontres d’Arles festival.
The following are non-exhaustive reviews of exhibitions that have dealt more or less directly with Chinese culture.
Jacques Borgetto’s “Si près du ciel, le Tibet” at the Espace Photographique de Sauroy (Paris)
Between 2007 and 2015, the French photographer Jacques Borgetto went six times to Tibet. He peregrinated over several regions, and visited villages, nomadic camps, and monasteries. Borgetto not only documented the gradual evolution of landscape and terrestrial routes, but he also captured the diversity of spiritual practices and everyday life in an essentially spontaneous manner. From magnificent natural mountain landscape to interior scenes, Borgetto mingled black and white, coloured, and wall mounted light boxes to display his photographs.
Sze Tsung Nicolas Leong’s “Horizons” at the Galerie Polka (Paris)
This British-American artist Sze Tsung Leong is exhibited in France for the first time. His series Horizons assembles an international collection of images, which eventually forms a personal picture of the world. Hung at times in diptych or triptych to trigger visual narratives, his photographs examine man’s place within its environment, as well as notions of far and near, foreign and familiar.
Dorian François’ “Solitudes” at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Saint-Denis (Saint-Denis)
The French photographer Dorian François has been travelling back and forth to China the past twelve years. His project “Solitude [Loneliness]” evokes the diary format by associating photographs and texts he has written en route to diverse places. While documenting observed facts, François also provides a sensible approach to contemporary China.
“Autophoto” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Paris)
This collective exhibition curated by Xavier Barral and Philippe Séclier focuses its attention on the world of cars, more specifically how the car provided photographers with a new subject, new viewpoints and new way of exploring the world. This large show brings together 500 works created by hundreds of historic and contemporary authors from around the world, including a rare selection of Chinese photographic prints dating back to the 1950s. These original small-format prints belong to the French artist and collector Thomas Sauvin, famed for its Beijing Silvermine archive that has been reconstructing the history of popular analogue photography in post-1980s China.
The Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris also prompted off-festival events such Fan Xi and Jing Wang’s group show held at the Villa des Arts (Paris). Although their approach to the technique differs, these two female photographers revisit conventional genres such as portraits and still lives.
Fan Xi plays around texture effects and chemical reactions by corroding the silver film with alcohol and water. On this occasion, she displays small-size blossoming flowers compositions and series of portraits. By altering the negative film and mixing it with wood, marble, and plaster amongst other materials, she creates unsettling yet mesmerizing optical distortions, in which forms and colours merge into one another.
As for Jing Wang, she has developed a performative photography that calls into question the self in interpersonal communication. Jing arrived in France at the age of nineteen, leaving behind her studies in economics and embracing her artistic vocation. Shot with an iPhone by using her toe, her series of auto portraits probes into autobiography yet never reveals her face. It appears as an attempt to question the changing relationship between her body and her immediate environment, whether it is interior or exterior.
More information: Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris